Yichen, or Ethan, is an 11th grader from China who attends high school in Allentown, PA. This is his third year on the PSE program.  When he first came into the program, Ethan was described by his Local Coordinator, Kathleen, as “a very quiet and shy young man with average English language skills.”

Over the course of time, Kathleen observed Ethan growing and developing into an extraordinary young man. He has shown steady improvement both academically and in his English language proficiency.

Ethan’s host mother, Dottie, reports that they enjoy having Ethan as part of their family.  She is impressed with how quickly he seems to grasp concepts. For example, when they took him bowling for the first time, he listened to the family’s advice and instruction about how to play the game. By the end of the second game he was scoring spares and strikes!

Dottie shares how Ethan developed a strong interest in physical fitness and weight training this past year. She boasts how Ethan became her “muscle,” as he is always happy to assist with lifting heavy items for her.

Last year, Ethan played on the school rugby team. With no prior experience, his dedication to and passion for this physically challenging sport was truly remarkable. In fact, he walked almost two miles to the field each time and never missed a single practice nor game! His entire team celebrated when he scored in a rugby match for the first time.

Dottie also shares how her family has enjoyed watching Ethan grow and evolve, as well as celebrating his successes with him. She recalls:

“Ethan arrived home from rugby practice and immediately went up to his room to change clothes.  My husband, Randy, and I heard Ethan yelling out my name.  I thought something horrible had happened, and I started to run upstairs.  Meanwhile, Ethan ran down the stairs to us while holding his computer.  He was so excited that he couldn’t speak!  Eventually, he was able to tell us that he scored a 90 on his TOEFL (English language) test.  This was a big deal because the last score that he received was a 60.  He double-checked the score with his calculator just to make sure!  We were so proud of him!”

Dottie and her family, having hosted Ethan for the past two years, are so excited to welcome him back for his third year as a member of their family.

“He is ours, and we are his,” says Dottie.

Ethan returned to school early this year so that he could pursue becoming a member of the high school football team. Of this, Kathleen comments,“It is very unusual for international students from China to participate on the football team, however, Ethan is determined.”

Indeed, his determination is inspiring. We will look forward to celebrating Ethan’s accomplishments and new endeavors this year!

Written by Flo Ruiz; Edited by Ann Steffen

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